posted by Tony Bourke on Tue 16th Dec 2003 00:42 UTC

"UnixWare, Page 4"
Security

To evaluate security, I took a look at how well SCO handles security bulletins and issues fixes. SCO has two different patch/update methods: The maintenance pack, and the update pack. The current as of writing for both is update pack 3 and maintenance pack 3, and they both contain security fixes, bug fixes, and functionality updates. Maintenance packs are freely available, where as update packs require a subscription license. Update packs include everything that you'd get in a maintenance pack, and more.

Not having a license for the update packs, I wasn't able to fully evaluate SCO's adeptness at security. Looking at SCO's published security updates, they seem to have caught a number of the more current bugs, including the recent sendmail exploit as well as potential OpenSSH vulnerabilities. UnixWare came installed with OpenSSH version 3.4p1, and the maintenance pack 3 I installed did not include the most recent version, OpenSSH 3.7.1p2. That version appears to be included in update pack 3, but again I can't confirm since I've been unable to apply it. Maintenance pack 3 did include a fixed version of sendmail.

Fortunately, despite trouble with other applications, I was able to compile current versions of OpenSSL (0.9.7c) and OpenSSH (3.7.1p2).

User Community

A user community is an invaluable resource to any operating system or application, whether they are commercial or open source, as they offer a certain measure of support that no vendor could possibly provide alone. These resources are typically realized with Google searches, Usenet posts, and message boards (just to name a few).

The ability to leverage this user base is usually directly related to the size of the user base, and that's where UnixWare is lacking. In all of the issues I came up against when using UnixWare, I had trouble finding solutions online. This is not to say that there aren't very talented people posting about technical issues and their solutions, there just aren't that many of them.

Thus far in this evaluation I've avoided the "SCO factor", but when speaking on issues beyond the purely technical, it's impossible to ignore the animosity that SCO has generated with its legal actions and the ramifications that they create. It certainly can't help adoption of UnixWare, and I think there's a very compelling argument that it will significantly harm adoption. As a result, the limited user base could cause community-based involvement to suffer significantly, and user community is something that I at least consider very important from and admin perspective.

On a side note I have sympathy for UnixWare users, who now find themselves embattled for running an operating system whose vendor has now become nefarious. Many SCO users don't agree with SCO's tactics, but they do find themselves responsible for UnixWare systems, and can easily end up the target of derision. This is also true for SCO employees. I have to imagine that many (perhaps most) don't agree with their employer's new tactics. It'd do well to give SCO users and employees the benefit of the doubt.

Enter the Cost Matrix

Cost is always a consideration, and this is perhaps where UnixWare is the most disappointing. For a single-CPU system with one user, UnixWare is $799. For 5 users, the price goes up to $1,399. Here is the complete price list I got from SCO:

Edition

Max Users

Max Memory

Max CPUs

List Price

Base Edition

1-User

1 GB

1

$799.00

Business Edition

5-User

4 GB

1

$1,399.00

Departmental Edition

25-User

4 GB

2

$2,299.00

Enterprise Edition

50-User

16 GB

4

$4,999.00

Data Center Edition

150-User

32 GB

8

$9,999.00

They were somewhat vague as to what constitutes a user. Here is their definition of a user, from their EULA, quoted to me from a SCO rep:

"User" is a person accessing the Software via a local or remote interactive device, such as a terminal or workstation, except where such use is exclusive to routing or gateway functions of the Software.

I'm inclined to think that it's a similar model to Microsoft's definition of a "user". I can't imagine it would consist of database users or simultaneous web users, as this would make this product virtually unusable as an Internet server. That is of course speculation, so contact SCO if you've any questions regarding their licensing policies.

Table of contents
  1. "UnixWare, Page 1"
  2. "UnixWare, Page 2"
  3. "UnixWare, Page 3"
  4. "UnixWare, Page 4"
  5. "UnixWare, Page 5"
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